Story by Jonathan Clark // Staff Writer | Photo by Austin Lewis // Sidelines Archive
There were six seconds left to play as freshman forward Alex Johnson sank one of two free throws to tie the game at 58. Johnson failed to capitalize on the second and as the Monarchs moved up the court, Columbia, Tennessee, native Makayla Timmons buried a near half-court heave for the win, 61-58.
Middle Tennessee (9-7, 3-2 C-USA) struggled early against Old Dominion (7-10, 3-2 C-USA). In the first half, the Blue Raiders allowed the Monarchs to shoot 50 percent from the field and assert their will early on in the rebounding game, securing a 20-9 edge at halftime. As a team, Old Dominion would eventually out-rebound Blue Raiders 40-20 by the end of the game.
“You can’t get out-rebounded twenty to forty and expect to win big games. That’s the glaring difference.” Coach Insell said about the discrepancy on the boards. “They just went to the glass on us. They had 31 defensive rebounds. We just didn’t do a good job.”
Alex Johnson went scoreless in the first half but came out firing in the second. She scored all of her 16 points in the second half, even adding a three-pointer to give the Blue Raiders the lead 40-39 near the end of the third quarter.
“(Johnson) was leaving too quick and they were pushing her out of the lane,” Insell said. “[I told her] ‘Sit down there, and we gone get you the ball, and when we get you the ball, go to work. And she did. She did a good job.”
Junior guard Ty Petty played all 40 minutes and tied her career-high with 20 points for a third straight time. She also chipped in 6 assists and grabbed 4 steals. As a leader of the team, Petty tried to keep the team together after the tough loss.
“[I told the team] just keep our heads up and get ready for the next game,” Petty said. “I think we battled to the end and that’s one thing we’ve been looking for is consistency. It just didn’t go in our favor.”
The Blue Raiders lost a tough one despite forcing 24 turnovers and coming up with 9 steals. Even with outscoring the Monarchs in the second half, early game mistakes cost Middle Tennessee late Saturday night. The Blue Raiders will take on North Texas on Jan. 21 in Denton, Texas, as they continue conference play. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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